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Brazil Set to Unleash Terminator Seeds – update

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A fast-tracked legislation process has been started. The allowance of sterile seeds would harm farmers and food security

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[Update] 16 October, ETC Group PR

Good News for World Food Day:
Suicide Seeds Are Dead…for the moment

In a great bit of news for World Food Day, a key Brazilian congressional committee today withdrew the consideration of legislation that would have allowed the sale and use of Terminator Technology, also known as suicide seeds. The Constitutional Commission of the Brazilian House of Representatives was slated to consider Bill PL 268/2007 this morning, but decided instead to withdraw it from the agenda – taking into account the social concerns raised by the national and international mobilization in opposition to the bill. Further, the President of the Commission pledged that as long as he is at the helm, he will not allow the bill back on the agenda.

“This should be taken as a victory for Food Sovereignty and Farmers’ Rights around the world. Social movements, farmers’ organizations and CSOs both in Brazil and internationally have made it crystal clear that Terminator has no place in our food, fields or future,” said Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director for ETC Group. “This is great news for World Food Day.”

The threat of the Terminator bill quickly mobilized a broad network of social movements, CSOs, NGOs, large umbrella organizations and other groups both within Brazil and internationally, including La Via Campesina, the ANA (National Articulation of Agroecology Movements), FBSSAN (Brazilian Forum on Food and Nutrition Security and Sovereignty), Plataforma Dhesca Brasil (Brazilian Platform on Human Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights), CONSEA (Brazil’s National Food and Nutrition Security Council), Action Aid, FIAN, Terra de Direitos, FASE, Centro Ecológico and others. At this morning’s meeting, members of the Constitutional Commission were handed both a petition now signed by more than 19,000 people from around the world (in just 3 days) and a resolution from the Second National Conference on Sustainable Rural Development asking for the bill’s rejection. The Conference, taking place now in Brasilia, has 1,500 participants from 26 states, including landless and settled peasants, small farmers, black communities, indigenous peoples, local and traditional communities, artisanal fisherfolk and others, together with representatives from government.

Concern over Brazil’s proposed legislation was also brought to the attention of governments attending the 17th meeting of the SBSSTA (science subsidiary body) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently meeting in Montreal. (193 countries of the CBD agreed on a de facto moratorium on Terminator in 2000.) Representatives from civil society raised the matter with both the Brazilian delegation and the Executive Secretary of the CBD. The alarm had also been sounded the week before in Rome during the meetings of the Committee on World Food Security.

While this is good news, sources in Brasilia stress the importance of remaining vigilant.
“The Terminator bill was withdrawn from the agenda, but it could be resuscitated at some point, and we know there is a second Terminator bill lurking in the labyrinth of the legislature. However, the immediate and unequivocal mobilization from inside and outside the country reminded those in Brasilia that attempts to legalize Terminator won’t go unnoticed or unchallenged,” says Maria José Guazzelli of Centro Ecológico.

From Montreal, ETC Group’s Executive Director Pat Mooney speculates, “Perhaps Congressmen in Brazil realized that if they had violated the Terminator moratorium, the issue would inevitably be raised at the CBD’s COP12 next year in Korea. Korean farmers’ organizations and Via Campesina are known worldwide for their numbers and effective action.”

Press Release by ETC: Today Brazil’s Judicial Commission (Comissão de Constituição e Justiça e de Cidadania) is slated to rule on the constitutionality of a proposed bill (PL 268/2007) that will allow genetically engineered sterility in seeds, known as Terminator Technology. If the bill gains the approval of the Commission, it could quickly come to a vote in Congress. Brazil’s national law to ban Terminator has been under threat since it was enacted 8 years ago, but this most recent congressional action has caused the most serious alarm since it could swiftly overturn the ban.[1]

“It’s shocking that Brazil is on the verge of reversing its national position on suicide seeds. If the government is at all sincere about its desire to eliminate hunger, it can’t allow a law that would ultimately threaten farmers and undermine their ability to grow food,” says Maria José Guazzelli of Brazil’s Centro Ecológico. “Brazil can’t reach a goal of ‘Zero Hunger’ with Zero Farmers.”

Since it first came to public light in 1998, Terminator technology has been widely condemned as a threat to biodiversity, farmers and food sovereignty. Initially developed by the world’s largest seed and agrochemical firms and the US Department of Agriculture, Terminator would prevent farmers from saving seeds from their harvest and would insure their dependence on multinational firms. At present, 6 multinational (Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto, DuPont) control 60% of the global commercial seed market and 76% of the agrochemical market.

193 Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity are unequivocal about Terminator, unanimously agreeing on a de facto moratorium in 2000, which was strengthened at the Conference of the Parties in 2006, under the presidency of Brazil.

“If Brazil were to approve this legislation, it would signal a clear intent to violate the international moratorium on Terminator, defying the will of 192 other countries,” says Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group’s Latin America Director. “Legislators in Brasilia should somberly consider the implications of their actions for their own farmers and the country’s biodiversity, but also the implications of becoming a country that violates international agreements.”

[1] The text of PL 268/2007 allows Terminator in crops (e.g., maize) genetically engineered to produce industrial chemicals. If PL 268/2007 is defeated, there is another proposed bill (PL 5575/2009) that would also allow Terminator. That bill is currently pending in Brazil’s House of Deputies.


Good News for World Food Day:
Suicide Seeds Are Dead…for the moment

In a great bit of news for World Food Day, a key Brazilian congressional committee today withdrew the consideration of legislation that would have allowed the sale and use of Terminator Technology, also known as suicide seeds. The Constitutional Commission of the Brazilian House of Representatives was slated to consider Bill PL 268/2007 this morning, but decided instead to withdraw it from the agenda – taking into account the social concerns raised by the national and international mobilization in opposition to the bill. Further, the President of the Commission pledged that as long as he is at the helm, he will not allow the bill back on the agenda.

“This should be taken as a victory for Food Sovereignty and Farmers’ Rights around the world. Social movements, farmers’ organizations and CSOs both in Brazil and internationally have made it crystal clear that Terminator has no place in our food, fields or future,” said Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director for ETC Group. “This is great news for World Food Day.”

The threat of the Terminator bill quickly mobilized a broad network of social movements, CSOs, NGOs, large umbrella organizations and other groups both within Brazil and internationally, including La Via Campesina, the ANA (National Articulation of Agroecology Movements), FBSSAN (Brazilian Forum on Food and Nutrition Security and Sovereignty), Plataforma Dhesca Brasil (Brazilian Platform on Human Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights), CONSEA (Brazil’s National Food and Nutrition Security Council), Action Aid, FIAN, Terra de Direitos, FASE, Centro Ecológico and others. At this morning’s meeting, members of the Constitutional Commission were handed both a petition now signed by more than 19,000 people from around the world (in just 3 days) and a resolution from the Second National Conference on Sustainable Rural Development asking for the bill’s rejection. The Conference, taking place now in Brasilia, has 1,500 participants from 26 states, including landless and settled peasants, small farmers, black communities, indigenous peoples, local and traditional communities, artisanal fisherfolk and others, together with representatives from government.

Concern over Brazil’s proposed legislation was also brought to the attention of governments attending the 17th meeting of the SBSSTA (science subsidiary body) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently meeting in Montreal. (193 countries of the CBD agreed on a de facto moratorium on Terminator in 2000.) Representatives from civil society raised the matter with both the Brazilian delegation and the Executive Secretary of the CBD. The alarm had also been sounded the week before in Rome during the meetings of the Committee on World Food Security.

While this is good news, sources in Brasilia stress the importance of remaining vigilant.
“The Terminator bill was withdrawn from the agenda, but it could be resuscitated at some point, and we know there is a second Terminator bill lurking in the labyrinth of the legislature. However, the immediate and unequivocal mobilization from inside and outside the country reminded those in Brasilia that attempts to legalize Terminator won’t go unnoticed or unchallenged,” says Maria José Guazzelli of Centro Ecológico.

From Montreal, ETC Group’s Executive Director Pat Mooney speculates, “Perhaps Congressmen in Brazil realized that if they had violated the Terminator moratorium, the issue would inevitably be raised at the CBD’s COP12 next year in Korea. Korean farmers’ organizations and Via Campesina are known worldwide for their numbers and effective action.”

For more information:
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group Latin America Director, Mexico silvia@etcgroup.org
Tel: +52 55 5563 2664

Neth Daño, ETC Group Asia Director, Philippines neth@etcgroup.org Tel: +63-82 302-8289

Pat Mooney, ETC Group Executive Director, Canada etc@etcgroup.org Tel: +1-613-240-0045